Why is Tennis good for you?

This article is by Islington’ Angel Sports Injury Clinic’s physiotherapist and looks at why tennis is good for you. And with the 2011 US Open Tennis Championship underway it seems like an appropriate time!

There have been a couple of articles on this site that have covered tennis injuries, in particular tennis elbow, twisted ankles and of course shoulder problems. Don’t get the wrong idea form this, tennis is a great form of exercise and probably one of the best for all round general fitness as demonstrated by a study sponsored primarily by the Royal by Netherland Tennis Association and written by Babette M Pluim, J Bart Staal, Bonita L Marks, Stuart Miller, Dave Miley.

The research found 96 studies that looked at the effect tennis had on the risk factors and diseases related to a sedentary lifestyle, including low fitness levels, obesity, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.


The results showed that those that played tennis had lower body fat percentages a more favourable lipid profile and enhanced aerobic fitness. This all contributed to an overall improved risk profile for cardiovascular morbidity. Also, numerous other studies have shown that tennis players have better bone health not only in tennis players with a long history of playing but also in those who take on the sport in middle-age.


Tennis is associated with increased plasma HDL-cholesterol levels. The most powerful predictor of coronary heart diseases is hyperlipidemia and more than half the cases of heart disease are attributable to lipid abnormalities. The higher HDL concentrations the lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. The study shows that playing tennis may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure response during tennis play is comparable to the response to an acute bout of moderate intensity exercise.

Bone Density

Tennis produced healthier bone density in both genders and across the age spectrum but the extent of the benefit was dependent on the duration of tennis participation and training frequency, being stronger in young starters than in old starters, but maintained despite decreased tennis participation. This was most clearly present in load- bearing bones such as the humerus of the dominant arm, lumbar spine and femoral neck, the most common bones involved in oeteoporotic fractures.

Heart Rate

Doubles play may be sufficient for the middle-aged or senior tennis player, because their maximum heart rate and VO2max are decreased. Doubles play is therefore particularly suitable for these categories. This has the added benefit that it increases the chance that those who play tennis are likely to maintain the sport when they grow older.


Tennis is a great all round sport helping with general fitness levels as it increases heart rate and strengthens bones which helps the older player. Tennis has also been found to be protective for cardiovascular disease by improving the proportion of healthy lipoproteins found in the blood.

As a physiotherapist it is clear that tennis is great for all ages and benefits are gained even if you play a more sedate doubles match. Tennis is also good for the back muscles and for helping to develop good control of the ‘core’ muscles due to the very dynamic movements involved in playing the sport.

However, if you are watching the US Open Tennis Championship and fancy a game but haven’t played tennis for a while take it easy. Maybe get a couple of lessons in first to help iron out any bad habits that have crept in. Don’t forget to warm up properly too. If you spend all week sitting at a desk your body wont thank you if you suddenly launch into a game of singles with all the bending and twisting involved in a game.

At the Angel Sports Injury and Physiotherapy Clinic we will happily advise you on the best way to warm up or to prevent injury when playing tennis. And if you get a tennis shoulder injury or you get tennis elbow we can sort it out for you.






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